James Mahoney

Dynamic sites with Google sheets

Sep 2nd 2016

I was after a simple way to curate a list of nearby Welsh practice meeting groups and have that information displayed on a web page. A Google spreadsheet seemed a good starting point because it's a spreadsheet hosted by Google that other people can help keep up to date.

Here's the sheet (in case you're in the area, want to practise your Welsh, and you like your data tabular)

Displaying the data on a web page can be as simple as some Javascript that downloads the data and renders it in whatever fashion makes sense e.g. a simple list, or plotting the meetings on a map.

Getting the data out of Google

There's a JSON based API you can use, but it's reported to be a somewhat clunky and fiddly JSON format. Plus, I'd one day like to have all this data accessible via a clean API, rather than being tied to whatever Google happen to be using.

This is the method I picked

  • Publish the spreadsheet as CSV.

    • This provides a public URL that mirrors the spreadsheet rows and columns as CSV
  • Use an Azure web job to download the data, convert it to a simple JSON format and then save it to an Azure BLOB

    "Area": "Newport",
    "Title": "Cwtch on a Saturday",
    "Notes": "",
    "Where": "Stow Hill, Handpost, Newport",
    "Postcode": "NP20 4HA",
    "When": "Every Saturday, 1000-1200"
    "Area": "Newport",
    "Title": "The Upper Cock - SSiW",
    "Notes": "",
    "Where": "The Upper Cock, The Hwy, Cwmbran",
    "Postcode": "NP44 2HE",
    "When": "Every Tuesday, 1900-2100"
  • Download the BLOB from my web page, parse the JSON and then render it in some way

$( document ).ready(function() {
  $.get('https://chatdirectory.blob.core.windows.net/simpleapi/newport/meetups.json', null,showMeetups);

function showMeetups(data)

  $json = $.parseJSON(data);
  $.each($json, function(i,item){

  $("#dynamic").append("<h1>" + item.Title + "</h1>");
  $("#dynamic").append("<p>" + item.Where + " " + item.Postcode + "</p>");
  $("#dynamic").append("<p>" + item.When + "</p>");
  $("#dynamic").append("<p>" + item.Notes + "</p>");

  • Configure CORS for the Azure Storage account

    • By default you can't simply download a BLOB from any old web page. You'll probably see this error: No 'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' header is present on the requested resource

    • Fortunately Azure storage accounts support CORS, meaning that it's a simple matter to fix this.

    • The easiest way I found to configure CORS was to use the Azure Storage Explorer - find the container your BLOBs will live in, right click and choose the "Configure CORS Settings" option